If we don’t already know the answers to these questions, what do we need to know to design, deploy, control, and live humanely with the tools we are creating?
Where are we going? Do we want to go there? Is there anything we can do about it? I have written this because I hope we can think together about where these questions lead. Perhaps there are solutions that can only be found by many of us, working together.
Thinking critically about the technosphere we inhabit, which defines who we are and dictates how we live and die, is scary — like thinking about performing surgery on yourself. Your internal denial alarms are going off already, I know. But I urge you to repress the urge to rise to the defense of penicillin and civilization, and consider how I came to rethink my attitudes.
You’re reading this on the web, after all. I do all the HTML myself. I upload it to the server. I do a little PhotoShop, a little Unix. I’m not an archgeek, but neither am I totally unaware of how this new stuff works. It is possible to think critically about technology without running off to the woods — although, I must warn you, it is possible that you will never be quite so comfortable again about the moral dimensions of progress and the part we all play in it. I know that I’m not.